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YouGov poll shows traditional media news sources remain more influential than social media

A YouGov poll for the London Press Club has shown that traditional news sources of newspapers and television remain more influential among voters than social media.

The survey just carried out among 1,600 adults in Britain showed that 23 per cent of people said printed publications helped them choose who to vote for, compared to 18 per cent who believed social media swayed them.

The results were revealed at a standing-room only London Press Club/Society of Editors debate at the Reuters building in Canary Wharf.

Andrew Rawnsley, political columnist for the Observer, chaired the debate on 'It was the readers wot won it' with panellists Daily Mail columnist Amanda Platell, Independent columnist John Rentoul, Reuters Europe/Middle East editor Simon Robinson, and PoliticsHome.com editor Kevin Schofield.

Key survey findings include: 

  • Fifty-one per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds thought social media more influential, compared to just 28 per cent who opted for newspapers.
  • Fifty-eight per cent agreed that the “advent of the digital age has diminished the influence of newspapers", but 48 per cent said they still thought that newspapers have a “significant impact on the outcome" of elections.
  • Forty-five per cent of the public still get their political news from a newspaper or a magazine, although 42 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds used online sources.
  • Forty-three per cent of voters think that a newspaper’s endorsement of a political party is “damaging for democracy”.

Rawnsley said that during the election social media meant that different issues became important. At one stage a belief that the Conservative Party was going soft on an ivory ban went viral and fox hunting also became a huge social media issue. Neither received the same level of coverage in the traditional press.

Rentoul said the debate and poll showed the distinction that existed in people's minds between the mainstream media and social media was breaking down.

“Most of the traditional media are on social media and although journalism is changing, with many new entrants, the division between new and old is not as absolute as people often think,” he said.

YouGov associate director Darren Yaxley presented the findings and said that their poll showed that while social media channels are particularly influential amongst younger voters the research also found that this group had not turned their backs on traditional media sources.

He said: “Even in the digital age traditional news sources such as newspapers and television remain more popular, important and influential than social media.”

He added that while social media channels are particularly influential among younger voters the research also found that this group had not turned their backs on traditional media sources. 

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